The inaugural Music City Eats took place last weekend in Nashville, and Farm Flavor was lucky enough to attend. Two of our editors, Jessy Yancey (JY) and Rachel Bertone (RB) attended one day each of the festival. Here are some of their highlights and takeaways from the food festival.
Seeing Food Network Royalty
I’ve been watching the Food Network since I was in college eating ramen noodles while craving “Everyday Italian,” so getting to see Giada DeLaurentiis up close and personal was what I most anticipated about this whole event. And on Saturday, she didn’t disappoint, talking on a panel with Michael Symon, Mangia’s Nick Pellegrino and Food & Wine editor Dana Cowin about the importance of cooking with kids, opening her first restaurant in Vegas (Symon thinks she’s crazy) and how to balance work and family. She later did a cooking demo with Nathan Followill and his wife, singer Jessie Baylin, but I missed most of it because Tim Love’s demo held at the same time was so entertaining. (More on that shortly.) – JY
The Origin of “Bam!”
Iron Chef Michael Symon, during the aforementioned panel, was telling us the trials and tribulations of shooting multiple episodes of a cooking show in the same day. Apparently Emeril Lagasse first started saying his catchphrase “Bam!” as way to make sure the camera guys weren’t falling asleep on the job. – JY
Falling in Love With Love
I was unfamiliar with Chef Tim Love before Music City Eats, but I found myself at his cooking demo. He immediately handed us margaritas and educated us on dry rubs for meat, including the importance of using way more salt than you think you need (although his words were, shall we say, a bit more colorful). He also started some friendly competition to make sure we were louder than Giada’s audience across the way… When I snuck over to her demo, I could still hear his crowd cheering. Definitely the most engaging of the chefs that I saw. – JY
Eating, Eating, Eating
I am ashamed to say I’ve never been to Arnold’s Country Kitchen, one of the quintessential meat-and-threes here in Nashville, but Music City Eats allowed me to enjoy a hearty plate full of roast beef, green beans, succotash, mac and cheese, and a roll. Most of the other Flavors of Nashville offerings were a bit more sample sized (probably a good thing), but it gave me the opportunity to try bites from two more Nashville restaurants I haven’t yet visited – Kayne Prime (scallops with grapes and lardo) and Rolf & Daughters (roasted eggplants stacks) – along with some old favorites such as Suzy Wong’s House of Yum, Catbird Seat, Etch and Jeni’s Ice Cream. – JY
After seeing Trisha Yearwood cooking and a couple Kings of Leon frequenting panels and just wandering around, it was exciting to see them perform onstage. The sponsor, Jameson, made sure drinks were flowing, and we had a fantastic time singing along to Tom Petty songs performed by the likes of Trisha (with Lady Antebellum’s Charles Kelly), the Followills, Emmylou Harris, Norah Jones and Jakob Dylan. Not really food related, but a good way to end a delicious day. – JY
More Demos from Talented Chefs
The festival continued on Sunday with demonstrations from some of the best in the biz. Michael Symon, who’s known as being an Iron Chef on Food Network and on the ABC morning show, The Chew, showed off his Greek heritage during his lighthearted demo. We watched as he made mouthwatering ribs, fried Haloumi cheese and a sweet and spicy watermelon salad. Most interesting to me were some of the common myths he debunked, such as the best cuts of meat. Turns out, a good, well-marbled ribeye steak is better than a filet mignon any day. According to Symon, if you need to wrap a piece of beef in bacon to make it taste better, it’s not a good piece of meat. He also said that contrary to what we hear, salt will not dry out meat. In fact, the Iron Chef salts his meat at least 24 hours before cooking it. – RB
Jon Shook and Vinny Dotolo of Animal Restaurant in Los Angeles gave an entertaining and informative demo on one of the most common kitchen ingredients – onions. The duo showed the audience how easy it is to turn the humble ingredient into tasty dishes like Caramelized Onion Dip and Onion Rings, plus the correct way to caramelize and dice onions. I found myself learning a lot of useful tips from these two California natives. – RB
Even More Eating
Sunday brought a whole new slew of Nashville restaurants, showing off their best dishes at the Flavors of Nashville tents. I sampled bites from The Southern (corn cake with jalapeno bacon, pimento cheese, a quail egg and collard green pesto), Otaku South (savory Japanese pancake with cabbage, scallion, pork shoulder, bacon dirt, shiso nori salt and pickled ginger), The Silly Goose, Tavern, Margot Cafe, Martin’s BBQ and many more. Great drinks too, from Nashville locals like Jackalope Brewery! – RB
Overall, we’d say the festival was a great success! Check out our Facebook album for some photos of great food and talented chefs. Can’t wait for next year!